The Oppo R9s is a phone with a striking appearance and an impressive camera. Theres more to it than that, but for our first encounter, we decided to focus on its best qualities. The R-series has produced some alluring mid-rangers, but the R9s has its sights set on a more premium position.
The Oppo R9s design unabashedly borrows from the iPhone, but when a company manages to out-Apple Apple, then we take notice. Clear your mind of the similarities in design and focus on the differences.
Both the R9s and iPhone 7 Plus are phones with 5.5 screens, but the Oppo is thinner among the two. It measures 6.6mm thick, 0.7mm less than its opponent. The sub-millimeter difference may not sound like much, but you can see and feel that the R9s is slimmer. Its lighter too, by over 40g.
And thats not what impressed us the most – Oppo has to be the first company to hide the antenna lines properly on an all-metal phone.
Enter Oppo with the six-string antenna band design. The grooves on the back, two groups of three, are an attractive design element, but they are actually key to the R9s antennas. They provide stable 4G LTE and Wi-Fi signal while being much less of an eye sore than iPhones antenna lines and dont scratch at your fingers like LG G5s lines.
We have the Rose Gold model, theres a regular Gold model too. Both have white fronts, covered in Gorilla Glass 5. Were quite partial to the matte Black model though (with a black front), it looks very stylish.
Below the screen is the Home button/fingerprint reader. Like the latest iPhones, its not a true button but a capacitive one. The fingerprint reader is fast – instantaneous even (officially, it needs 0.2s to trigger, but it feels less).
Here is one thing we liked about the fingerprint reader (besides its speed) and one thing we didnt. You can add multiple fingers and assign a shortcut to each – launch a specific app or call a certain contact. Obviously, youll want one finger to just unlock the phone. Anyway, for the thing we didnt like – until you set up at least one fingerprint, you cant use the Home key to wake the phone.
Oppo didnt sacrifice the battery at the altar of thin – the R9s has a 3,010mAh battery, average for a 5.5 phone but excellent for one this thin and light. And the chipset is best known for its power efficiency as its built on a 14nm process and uses only Cortex-A53 cores (obviously, its not known for flagship performance, but well leave that for the review).
The company also brought its excellent VOOC fast charging tech. The charger included in the retail box pushes 5V at 4A – thats 20W of power, compared to something like Quick Charge 3.0 or Googles Power Delivery implementation, both of which top out at 18W. After 5 minutes of charging, the Oppo R9s is ready for 2 hours of voice calls. And since charging is done at 5V, the phone remains cool.
The Oppo R9s is probably the first phone with Sonys IMX 398 sensor – its definitely the first one weve encountered. What separates the 398 from the 298 used in phones like the OnePlus 3T? Its the Dual Pixel autofocus, similar to that used in the Samsung Galaxy S7.
The sensor has 16 million pixels, each 1.12µm big and is behind a very bright f/1.7 aperture (matching the S7 and beating iPhone 7s f/1.8). It should excel in low-light performance – the aperture lets plenty of light in while Dual Pixel offers reliable focus at times when regular Phase Detection might fail.
The camera on the front also uses a 16MP camera with another Sony sensor with Deep Trench Isolation. It reduces crosstalk between pixels (its similar to Samsungs ISOCELL). This camera is fixed-focus and has an f/2.0 lens with 78.2° field of view (you can extend that to 120° with the Selfie Panorama feature).
The weather wasnt cooperating, but we still managed to snap camera samples (if it clears up, well shoot new ones for the review). Heres a preview of the capabilities of the OnePlus R9s.
Its winter so the sun is low in the sky and its quite foggy, which is nice if you want to push HDR mode to its limits, bad if you want a clean camera sample.
We also snapped ь low-light shot.
We spent several hours with the Oppo R9s, and were coming away impressed – with its build and fingerprint reader mostly. The camera shows promise, but it will have to work harder to earn our praise. We havent even gotten to the front camera yet (Oppo has experience in this area, it produced a self-proclaimed Selfie expert).
The R9s is feeling particularly compact, you may be fooled into thinking its a 5.2 phone. The narrow bezels help, but the phone also catches the eye with how thin it is. Were starting the battery tests, but capacity looks to be enough, and VOOC is among the fastest chargers ever.
Speaking of fast, the fingerprint reader is blindingly so. It helps a lot that the screen comes on instantly instead of fading on. Other makers can learn a thing or two from Oppo – for starters, how to give the impression of instant unlocks and how to integrate the antenna lines better into the design.